Mondavi Center will be hosting performances again in October
Large selection of music and various speakers on tap
The Mondavi Center’s new online brochure – coming after the 1,800-seat Jackson Hall had been silent for more than a year and the Vanderhoef Studio Theater ran daily COVID-19 tests for both campus and the community – brings you it in a nutshell:
The words “We Are Back” are written in large, bold letters. In addition: “After 19 months, the Mondavi Center will open its doors again this fall.”
Or as Mondavi’s Managing Director Don Roth puts it: “The start of a season following a pandemic year that kept our cinemas dark for more than a year and a half makes this a truly extraordinary moment.”
As you’d expect, some familiar faces who previously played at Jackson Hall will return in the 2021-2022 season. But some artists and speakers who are new to Mondavi will also be on display. And the season is organized a little differently than in the past – almost all events take place in Jackson Hall, and all subscriptions are on a pick your own season basis. The highlights include:
Jazz and Roots
The season opener on October 14th is Arturo O’Farrill’s “Fandango at the Wall”, which is based on the annual concerts on the border wall between San Diego and Tijuana. O’Farrill’s Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra is accompanied by the Villalobo Brothers and the Conga Patria Son Jarocho Collective.
It’s no surprise that two bandleaders and brothers with the surname Marsalis are visiting. Trombonist Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra will be back in town on October 23rd and trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra will be back on February 2nd.
New to Davis is the Inuit ensemble Pamyua, which will be visiting on November 21 with drums and masks from the upper reaches of the North American continent. Another appearance on November 21st is jazz singer Veronica Swift, whose new album “This Bitter Earth” is attracting a lot of attention. Gospel, jazz and classical musician Damien Sneed will bring “Joy to the World: A Christmas Musical Journey” to the city on December 4th.
Singer-songwriter Becca Stevens will have her first appearance on Mondavi on February 10th. Their music picks up on folk and jazz, with a few touches of modern funk in the mix. And young jazz keyboardist Matthew Whittaker (a blind performer who plays both the piano and Hammond B-3 organ) visits his band on March 25th, a few days before Whittaker’s 21st birthday.
The cabaret artist Meow Meow, who mixes provocative humor and elaborate costumes in her vocal performances, is visiting on March 26th.
Pianist Christopher Taylor – who likes to perform unusual material (he once played JS Bach’s Goldberg Variations with Mondavi on a very unusual two-manual Steinway piano) will come to visit twice with music you probably never did on a solo keyboard recital – Franz Liszt’s transcriptions of all nine Beethoven symphonies. Taylor will play the entire set of these Liszt transcriptions in four different programs (November 6th and 7th and April 22nd and 24th).
The Alexander String Quartet – the only ensemble that has performed every season of the Mondavi Center since the complex opened in 2002 – is accompanied by commentator and historian Robert Greenberg in three programs with a focus on chamber music works by Antonín Dvorák. Dates are December 5th, January 30th and May 15th).
On December 10th, the Chamber Music Society of the Lincoln Center calls again to perform all six Brandenburg concerts by JS Bach.
Two touring orchestras that have visited Mondavi several times in the past will return. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Vasily Petrenko, with Russian-born pianist Olga Kern as soloist, will play at Jackson Hall on January 15th. The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, under the direction of violinist and conductor Joshua Bell, will open at Jackson Hall on March 12th.
During the season there will also be an unusual adaptation of Beethoven’s opera “Fidelio” by an ensemble called Heartbeat Opera on February 19.
The pianists Garrick Ohlssohn and Kirill Gerstein, who have both performed with Mondavi, will join forces on March 6 for a piano duo program.
And pianist Lara Downes – who has been quite successful with her well-received recent albums – will team up with composer Clarise Assad on April 7th on a program entitled “World of Change”, which includes an original suite penned by Assad .
As always, there are humorists – New Yorker Fran Liebowitz (a writer who has made a certain career in recent years talking to audiences about writer’s block) will take the stage on February 24th, and the tireless David Sedaris (the one with popular monologue he made for NPR in 1992, to a thriving career as a bestseller and touring as a speaker) returns May 1st.
And there will be other speakers on important social issues of today. Dr. Ibram X. Kendi will speak about his much-discussed book How to Be an Antiracist (this year’s UC Davis Campus Community Book Project) on March 31st. And Heather McGee will talk about her book “The Sum of Us. speak: What racism costs everyone and how we can be successful together ”on April 3rd.
The popular Australian cirque company Circa, which has attracted a large audience at Mondavi in recent years, is bringing a completely new program to Mondavi on January 28, entitled “Humans 2.0”. And choreographer Ronald K. Brown and his dance company Evidence will present a new work entitled “The Equality of Night and Day” on February 26th.
On March 18, Ballet Folklórico de Amalia Hernández will be in a program of Mexican music and dance. And Las Cafeteras will weave stories of love and justice in Los Angeles with Afro-Mexican rhythms and rhymes on April 28th.
This series introduces artists whose work transcends genre boundaries in various ways. The program on November 11th is the speaker and dialect trainer Eliza Jane Schneider in a play about a road trip in America. Another program from November 17-19 will feature a musical theater piece by Liz Queler that focuses on the poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay. And on March 9th and 10th, the Kinetech Arts group will present a multidisciplinary piece called “Passages” that explores entropy and time.
The composer and instrument maker Paul Dresher will meet with the percussionist Joel Davel on November 11th.
Other unusual offerings include an installation by artists Ashwini Bhat and Forrest Gander, on view February 14 through May 6, which is inspired by the landscapes and views of Mount Tamalpais in Marin County.
Flautist, composer and researcher Grace Leslie will be at Mondavi on May 19th with a “brain-body” performance that mixes the live performance with electronics triggered by electrical measurements from Leslie’s brain, heart and skin.
A few more details
Do spectators have to wear face masks at these events?
“We don’t know exactly yet,” said Roth. He added that the Mondavi Center will be following the latest recommendations from national, state and local health authorities, but with these health authorities revising their recommendations over the past few weeks, it is currently impossible to predict what action will be taken next.
Season passes (choose your own season from three or more events) are currently available online at Mondaviarts.org. People who want to buy tickets by phone with a ticket agent can make an appointment by appointment – send a message using an online form at Mondaviarts.org and the cashier will contact you.